Deciding Against an Epidural
For my second labor, I decided to surrender to my contractions instead of fighting them. Still, when I arrived at the hospital, I began to doubt my ability to give birth. I considered an epidural. We tried a small dose of IV Nubain instead. The drug made me feel sleepy. I found the hot tub a much more effective form of pain relief. I felt less pain than during my first birth, and while some might say it's because subsequent labors are shorter and therefore less painful, I think the tub played the bigger role. My nurse-midwife monitored me while I labored in the tub, and when I felt the urge to push, she helped me out onto the bed. Five minutes later, our second son was born -- pink, healthy, and happy. I felt 100 percent better than I did after my first birth. Seconds, not weeks, after delivery, I felt like myself again.
Later, I wondered if the Nubain had really been necessary. I realized that in my helpless moment I'd simply wanted someone to do something; maybe I'd needed reassurance more than drugs.
For my third labor, I relied on the support of my midwives and the wisdom of my own body. While my labor was intense, I wouldn't describe it as painful. I spent each contraction relaxing, allowing my body to do its necessary work. Our third son was born shortly after midnight in a peaceful, powerful water birth.
The feeling of triumph I experienced was tremendous. Through my own labor, I brought my son into the world. I gained an appreciation for my body and a sense of personal confidence that persists to this day. I know that deep within me I have the capacity and strength to deal with anything. That's a gift no drug can give.